USA TODAY Sports
There are very few things in this world that are as obscure, creepy, and ridiculous as the recruitment of 17-18 year old boys to play major college football. We have talked about this in length, but it must be reiterated that the entire process is somewhat insane and if a person goes out of their way to mock a kid (cannot underscore the kid part of these recruits) for choosing a different school or for changing his mind, then we probably have a problem. Still, it is also a proven lifeblood to your program and as we have seen time and time again, it may not be a fool-proof predictor of success, it definitely plays a part.
So why am I even talking about this? After all, there are some fine folks at 247Sports, Scout, and Rivals that do just that AND there is a nice little Hub at SBNation that does an excellent job of rounding up and rounding out the SBN coverage and that one is free. But yeah, I am talking about this because it's still fascinating to think about what each class brings to the table. I will not get into specifics because I am not qualified and there are team-specific sites and blogs that will give you every creepy detail about each kid, but I do want to take a few minutes and dive into some numbers. Specifically, how do teams stack up nationally? With all this talk about the B1G unable to recruit, it was worth taking some time to break out Excel and try to make sense of my small data.
So this was pretty straight forward. I took rankings from 247, Scout, Rivals, and ESPN (although ESPN only lists the top 40 for free and actually messes with my data a bit). I put it in a chart, found an average and included SD for good measure. Since the data entries are limited to four, SD is somewhat ridiculous (especially on a subjective scale sense), but it helps explain Ohio State being generally considered top 5 and Michigan not except by Scout where they are 1. The data ends up extracting as follows:
I honestly have no idea how to embed tables in HTML, so you're kind of stuck with the screen shot image for now, but you get the picture as a whole. As a general rule of thumb we see a set of schools trending where you would expect. Like I said earlier, ESPN only goes through 40, so some schools are only getting 3 data points, but until I find a lot more sites, this is what you get. Also, I have no doubt someone somewhere is doing a better job with this data, but stick with me.
Thoughts on the Data
- I will get a comparison together from other conferences, but if I had to guess, I'd suppose the B1G is probably ranked third in recruiting right now as a composite average. We have a decent top of the conference and even Penn State is doing pretty good all things considered (I'd assume they're probably five spots lower than they would be if they weren't under restrictions), but the bottom is not so good. Obviously Purdue has to try and salvage a class, and Minnesota is actually trending up considering where they've been, but having only three Top 25 classes is not-so-good. If we want the B1G to compete with the talent elsewhere, that's a great place to start.
- Iowa is way too low for how good they were in the not-so-distant past. In general, Indiana is beating them fairly handily in recruiting (minus Scout who also is the one organization listing Michigan as the best class in the land) and Indiana has no business beating out Iowa considering the relative merits of both programs. This comes down to Kevin Wilson being better at what he's doing with his staff than what Kirk Ferentz is doing with his. I have seen that Iowa has landed two 4* kids from Iowa for next year's class, so things can change, but if there was ever a reason to complain about the Ferentz regime on top of what's already out there, the lazy recruiting would be close to top of my list.
- Again, I'm not an expert, or an economist, but I would guess that the variations in rankings is enough to raise a few eyebrows. Nebraska is a Top 20 and rising class in all but ESPN's rankings where they are not even a Top 25. I am not super intimate with each service, so I am unaware of any flaws in rankings of Juco kids or transfers, so maybe that's a part? Same goes for Scout thinking so highly of Michigan's class in comparison to the other three services. I would guess that it has something to do with the evaluation methods as well. What do they care most about? I've heard ESPN is big on bringing in former coaches, but I cannot confirm that.
- Since I'm a Huskers fan, I would like to point out that the talk about Pelini obviously not being able to recruit are severely overstated. I know people hate his sideline demeanor, that really wasn't even all that bad this year, but he is very good with kids. The families seem to trust him to run a tight ship and it's paying off. When it's all said and done, I think this class rounds into a Top 15 class. That would firmly entrench Nebraska in the 3rd best school in the B1G spot this year.
- While we're here, Ohio State and Michigan are beating the conference by a lot. I know you all know this, but I have to point it out again. I do not know the classes intimately, but it does not look so good for everyone else. Nebraska is close and Penn State is respectable, but this is not good in terms of keeping power away from those two. Anybody think we need to up budgets a bit?
- I do not have budgets for each school in regards to recruiting, but how much do you want to bet that the rankings are directly correlated to money spent? Just in rough estimates, that makes sense as far as what each school generates from football. The exception? Iowa, who was the third most profitable school according to Forbes but is 10th. Again, kind of a knock on Ferentz there.
- Biggest surprise? Illinois at sixth. Now, I know some recruits are bailing, so we'll see what comes of this ranking when it is all said and done, but considering how low we think of Illinois in football, this is pretty good. Tim Beckman might be an idiot or a genius, we aren't sure yet, but he's not doing an awful job of recruiting in comparison to the rest of the B1G.
Hey, also worth pointing out, it seems that each of the team-specific SBN sites are doing fantastic recruiting coverage. As a Nebby fan, I've been impressed with Corn Nation, but you should check out all of the sites for their thoughts on this whole recruiting game (relevant links directly to recruiting sections when possible):
Illinois: The Champaign Room
Indiana: The Crimson Quarry
Iowa: Black Heart Gold Pants
Michigan: Maize n Brew
Michigan State: The Only Colors
Minnesota: The Daily Gopher
Nebraska: Corn Nation
Northwestern: Sippin on Purple
Ohio State: Land Grant Holy Land
Penn State: Black Shoe Diaries
Purdue: Hammer and Rails
Wisconsin: Bucky's 5th Quarter